Now that we have several weeks of data, we are going to analyze where the team in Mountain Division have improved and areas where they have regressed. Next week, we will evaluate the West Division.
Improved: One of the biggest improvements for the Aggies is on offensive 3rd downs. In 2018 they were ranked 65th averaging 14.2 3rd downs a game. This season that number has increased to 16.7 a game which is 18th in the nation. While the conversion percentages are about the same the difference is in the number converted 6.6 has increased to 7.3 per game. This has allowed the Aggies to great longer drives. The other area the Aggies have improved in the red zone defense. The attempts has increased from 3.2 to 4.0, but the percentage in 2018 was 84.62% or 82nd in the nation and has decreased to 75% good for 26th in the country. There are a few more opportunities for the opposing teams, but the defense is preventing scores.
Regressed: In 2018 the defense allowed 16.7 3rd downs a game which was 125th in the country. Unfortunately, this season that number is up to 19.7 per game, the worst in the NCAA. The number converted has also increased from 5.8 to 8.3 3rd downs per game. This is allowing opponents to created longer drives. The Aggies can’t always reply on David Woodward to strip the ball away and score a touchdown, the need to stop opposing offensives earlier. Another area of concern is red zone offense. Seems strange to mention it with Jordan Love, but the 86.79% scoring in the red zone in 2018 has dropped to 61.54% which is 118th in the country.
Still good: The Broncos averaged 15.5 3rd downs on offensive a game last year which was 26th in the nation, their offense now averages 15.7 3rd downs a game good enough for 26th. Even their conversion rate is about the same as 8.2 conversions last year is now 8.3 conversion this year, so the second best rate of 52.48% last year have improved slightly to 53.19% which is 6th best. Not to be outdone, last year the defense allowed a top 20 12.6 3rd downs a game which is slightly superior 11.7 per game and 12th best in the country.
Improved: Last year the Bronco defense only allowed 2.6 trips into the red zone by opposing team, which was 14th in the nation. This year that number has been cut in half to 1.3 appearances which is a top 10 statistics.
Regressed: The red zone has become an area of concern for Boise State, given that they are playing a freshman quarterback it is likely to mend. Last year the offense scored 85.37% of the red zone attempts, but this year it is 50% which is only better than four schools. To compound the problem the offensive attempts have dropped from 3.2 to 2.0, another three digit ranking, 111th. While the defense has decreased the number of visits to the red zone, unfortunately the percentage of scoring is 100%. Every trip into the red zone from opposing teams has resulted in points. The defense had a respectable 79.41% and 37th ranking last year and while they are allowing fewer trips, cannot be giving up points every time a team visits the red zone.
Improved: Last year the offense only entered the red zone 2.1, the only team with a lower number was Akron at 1.6 trips. This year the Cowboys have jumped to 42nd in the country with a 3.8 average. Combine those numbers with an increase in red zone scoring of 86.67% up from 82.61% last year and that is great news for the Cowboys. But the best news comes from the red zone defense. Last year the defense was ranked 101st with a scoring allowed percentage of 87.88%, however this year they are allowing a staggering 57.14% scoring rate which is 5th in the country. That is a huge swing in numbers.
Regressed: One area of concern in the 3rd down defense. Last year the defense held teams to 14.7 3rd downs, 78th in country, and only 5.8 conversions. This year, those numbers are up to 17.0, and a 124th ranking to accompany it, and allowing 6.2 3rd downs to be converted. The defense needs to make stops on get on the field.
Improved: While the number of 3rd downs the offense produces has dropped slightly from 13.5 to 13.0, the number converted has increased from 5.6 to 7.7 at a national best 58.97%. The red zone defense had a respectable 82.14% conversion rate which was 60th in country, but has dropped to an impressive 66.67% which is the 12th best in the country. Keeping drives going and stopping teams in the red zone are important areas to improve.
Regressed: While the defense has a better rate of stopping defenses, unfortunately for the Falcons, opposing teams are making more trips, from a 10th best 2.5 last year to a 103rd ranking of 4.0. The other area the defense is struggling is 3rd downs, 12.6 per game in 2018, good for a 20th ranking, and allowing only 5.5 converted, has turned into 14.3 3rd downs allowed and 7.7 of them converted. Another teams who has trouble get off the field when needed.
Improved: The offense has been playing much better this year. The number of 3rd downs has increased from 13.6 last year, ranked 91st, to 16.7 this year coupled with a 17th ranking. Not only are Lobos having more chances to get a 1st down, they are taking advantage of it, 5 conversions last year at a 85th ranked rate of 36.67% up to 7.0 converted and a 47th ranked rate of 42%. The defense has improved as well, from allowing 15.0 3rd downs last year, 89th ranking, to a top 20 ranking of 12 this year. The number of 3rd downs opposing teams converted has dropped from 6.6 to 4.3. This year the red zone defense is 88th allowing teams to score 87.5% of the trips, while not great it is an improvement of the 94.0% rate last year which was better than only East Carolina and Houston.
Regressed: The downside to the red zone defense is the number of attempts has increased from 4.5 to 5.3, only 4 schools allow more. The red zone offense would score 82.35% of the time last year, but this year only five teams have a lower rate of 55.56% of this year. Red zone is still a concern on both sides of the ball for the Lobos.
Improved: The one bright area for the Rams is the offense has increased their number of trips to the red zone from 2.8, 109th ranking, to 3.8 trips this year. Unfortunately, that is the only area that has seen improvement for Colorado State
Regress: 3rd downs has become a liability for the Rams. Last year, the offense was 17th in the country with 15.8 3rd downs and converted 43.1% of them for 6.8 per game. This year, those numbers have all dropped, only 14.2 3rd downs a game, while only converting 4.5 or 31.58% of them. The defense was 8th in nation last year only allowing 11.9 3rd downs that number has increased to 13.0 this year. The defense has also increased the number of opponent red zone trips from 3.5 to 3.8 and the scoring percentage also rose from 82.05% to 86.67%.